Can you understand why a little creature, who can’t even understand what’s done to her, should beat her little aching heart with her tiny fist in the dark and the cold, and weep her meek unresentful tears to dear, kind God to protect her? Do you understand that, friend and brother, you pious and humble novice? Do you understand why this infamy must be and is permitted? Without it, I am told, man could not have existed on earth, for he could not have known good and evil. Why should he know that diabolical good and evil when it costs so much? Why, the whole world of knowledge is not worth that child’s prayer to dear, kind God!
– Fyodor Dostoyevsky in The Bothers Karamazov. In a chapter of the book titled “Rebellion,” Ivan concludes he would rather be left in a world without atonement for suffering than to purchase harmony at the high price of “the tears of that one tortured child.”
(Hat tip: Ross Douthat)